Iran’s Foreign Miminister, Ali Akbar Saleh, in meeting with the chairman of Majelis Ulema Indonesia (MUI), Umar Shihab, on Sunday, warned the Muslim countries to exercise vigilance to thwart the enemies (US-Israel-Saudi Arabia) plot to cause Shia-Sunni, Arab and non-Arab division in the ranks of Muslim nation-states. Umar Shihab is visiting the Islamic Republic on the invitation of Tehran-based World Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thoughts.
Interestingly, during the 8-year Saddam Hussein and his western supporters war on Islamic Republic was never called a Sunni-Shia religious conflict. But, since the West’s failure to contain the Islamic Revolution (1979) from inspiring Muslim masses in the neighboring Muslim-majority countries – the US-Israel-Saudi Arabia brought the centuries-old Shia-Sunni political divide on the table.
The political defiance against US-Israel imperialism by Islamic Iran, Hizbullah, Iraq and the current anti-government protests in Bahrain and Yemen are signs of a reawakening of Shia identity. By the same token Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Hizbullah as provoking Israel’s attack on Lebanon in summer 2006 shows which basket Riyadh put Saudi eggs. Saudi Arabian mediated the ‘Makkah Agreement’ between Hamas and Fatah Palestinian factions. “Saudi Arabia fought to get Hamas back,” said Martin Indyk, former US Jewish ambassador to Israel and currently director of the Jewish think tank, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, at the Brookings Institute. Both Hamas and Fatah are Sunnis.
The US-Israel-Saudi Arabia ‘axis of evil’ views Iran’s influence over Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Palestinian issue with increasing alarm. That’s why they’re supporting the corrupt anti-Iran regimes in Bahrain and Yemen while supporting the anti-Qaddafi rebels in Libya.
In 2005 – USraeli-puppet King Abdullah II of Jordan spoke of the emergence of a “Shia Crescent”; more recently commentators have referred to “the rise of the Shia, the Shia wave, Shia awakening and Shia revival”. It’s true that for the first time in their history the Arab Shias have been handed power in Arab Iraq and have become a major player in the power-corridors of Lebanon. In both cases, they’re inspired by the success of Islamic regime in Tehran.
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is known for maintaining distance with Shia-majority government in Iraq for later’s close relations with the US occupation forces.
It was military success against Israel in Lebanon and not the rise to power of a corrupt ruling elite in Iraq, says one Shia thinker close to Hizbullah, that has empowered the Shia, just as has the Sunni Hamas. What is happening in Iraq, he continues, is not something from which strength can be drawn; rather, the opposite is true, and the Iraqi situation weakens Shia political independence.